Livestock feather and hoof care: Learn how at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day – June 19, near Ankeny – RSVPs requested

For Release: June 6, 2014

ANKENY, Iowa — Whether you’re raising livestock for farm income or for show, knowing how to properly care for hooves, hair and feathers is an important aspect of animal husbandry.

Come learn the correct ways to groom a range of livestock during a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day at Griffieon Family Farm on Thursday, June 19, from 5-7 p.m., near Ankeny. LaVon and Craig Griffieon and family run a diversified operation that includes beef, chickens, turkeys, pigs, sheep and horses, as well as corn, soybeans, oats, alfalfa and sweet corn. They invite livestock owners of all types to join them for an evening of fitting, trimming and clipping. The farm is located at 11655 NE 6th St., north of Ankeny.

The event – “Fit and Trim: Hoof, Hair and Feather Care for Livestock” – is free to attend and will include supper after the demonstrations. RSVPs are requested for the meal. Please reply to Lauren Zastrow at (515) 232-5661 or by Monday, June 16.

Participants will learn how to trim hooves and feathers for animal health and safety, as well as some of the ways to tell when an animal needs attention. Hoof care of cattle, sheep and horses will be demonstrated, along with how to trim flight feathers in chickens, and blocking and trimming of calves and hair sheep.

“For most chickens, you trim their flight feathers to keep them from jumping the fence,” LaVon says. “If they fly out some predator will get them because they can’t get back in. They can also get in your garden and dig your plants and mulch out. Chickens are better in the pen. If you have a problem with your chickens not staying put, trimming their wings is a good way to keep them where they’re supposed to stay.”

For hoofed animals, both working livestock and those raised for show, LaVon says a major reason for staying on top of hoof care is to avoid lameness. “They can get inflammation between their toes. Sometimes there might be a tack or nail that’s stuck. Dairy cattle, especially, can get worn parts on their hooves and their feet get tender and soft. For show animals, it’s like wearing your high heels when you’re in a beauty contest – it makes the animals stand up and strut better.”

While Iowans generally don’t have to worry about hoof problems caused by dry climates, she says horses can still be prone to some of those issues, such as cracking. “We don’t have that problem with cattle here, but we do see horizontal and vertical cracks in horses. If it cracks, like your fingernail, they’re going to be lame.”

Griffieon Family Farm is a Century Farm that has been worked since 1868. The family focuses on humane management of livestock and healthy food, as well as sharing the rural lifestyle with their urban neighbors.

Directions from Des Moines: Take I-35 north to Exit 94 (36th Street). Turn left off the exit and go 1.2 miles to U.S. 69. Proceed west across U.S. 69, go one-half mile to NW Ash Drive and turn right (north); the road will turn to gravel (NE 6th Street). Go past two cement silos. The house will be the first on the right (east) side of the gravel road (the mailbox has the Griffieons’ name on it).

Directions from Ames: Take I-35 south to Exit 96 for Elkhart / Polk City. Turn right and go 1.5 miles to U.S. 69. Turn left and go 1 mile until you reach the Polk City blacktop (NE 118th Avenue). You will see a green highway sign that says “Polk City, Saylorville Lake.” Turn right and go one-half mile to the first gravel road, then turn left. The house will be the first on the left side of the road.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2014 field day season features 35 field days around Iowa. All field days are open to the public, and most are free to attend. The guide is currently available on Practical Farmers’ website, and will be available in print at the end of May. Contact the office at (515) 232-5661 to request a copy.

Practical Farmers’ 2014 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; BlueStem Organic Feed Mill; Calcium Products; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment Company; Gateway Market and Café; Grain Millers, Inc.; Grassland Oregon; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Farm Service Agency (USDA); Iowa Farmers Union; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (ICASH); ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Klinkenborg Aerial Spraying and Seeding, Inc.; La Cross Seed – Soil First; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Insurance Corporation; MOSA Organic Certification; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); National Wildlife Federation; Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; The Nature Conservancy in Iowa; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed and Honey Company.


Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call (515) 232-5661 or visit


LaVon and Craig Griffieon | Griffieon Family Farm | (515) 964-0876 |

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |